Sainchi, Phulkari Textile, 106.5 x 57 inches


Phulkari textiles emerged in erstwhile Punjab (present-day Punjab and Pakistan), as well as in Haryana, India. This genre of textiles derives from the words phul or flower and akari or shape, which together mean a work of flowers. Originally prepared with real flowers on silk and mulmul, this domestic endeavour was undertaken by the women of the house upon the birth of a female child and can be traced back to the 7th century CE. It was not until the mid-19th century that this form gained recognition beyond the local markets and was brought into the international markets. Phulkari, as we know it today, is a poetic rendering of silk embroidery on hand-spun cloth, like Khaddar, where the texture aids in executing the patterns proportionately without a blueprint. The cloth is embroidered on the reverse side with brightly coloured motifs and geometric patterns using long and short darn stitches. The practice in the eastern and western parts of Punjab (now Pakistan) varies primarily in its colour palette, where the former use the vibrant shades of red, pink, orange and yellow which they consider auspicious, the latter employ rich colours of gold and ivory. In our curated display are Sainchi Phulkari textiles, a style that outlines the figures in black ink and depicts scenes from everyday village life. It was popularly originated in the Indian districts of Bhatinda, Faridkot and Ferozepur. Yards of Phulkari work were passed on as heirloom to the women of the family on auspicious occasions.